Sonia Orts is one of the beloved brands that we represent on Sensoriam. The brand is named after the charismatic founder herself. Sonia's life long passion has been in creating 100% natural perfumes using ancient Spanish alchemic perfumery techniques. Sonia's products are an expression of passion and love, that follow the natural rhythms connected to the universe. Sonia's passion and unique talent shines through in every one of her products. Below Sonia shares how it all began and what makes her products so special.
1. How did you come to be a perfumist?
Since I was very little I’ve been ‘squeezing’ plants to get their aromatic juices in a tiny bottle, like a treasure to be opened and enjoyed. My teenage hobby was guessing everybody’s perfume — I had acquired a well-appointed library in my brain/nose by never buying the same perfume twice.
Then, in my early 20’s, the universe conspired putting someone in my path that asked me what my dream job was. My response was... having a small perfumery like in the old days. I wanted to create fragrances that went beyond scenting —medicinal aromatic tonics and potions that will make people feel better and help them heal their emotions. Unfortunately, today you can’t use these words (medicinal and healing), they are only reserved for the white coat guys. Nevertheless, that was the starting point. I started studying Spanish Alchemic Perfumery.
A new world was revealed to me and my journey as a botanical alchemist began. It’s been years of research, experience, and learning of techniques. Going back to the old ways and applying modern techniques and processes for the perfect fusion.
2. “Every product you craft is a melody” what do you mean by that?
In Spanish alchemic perfumery, we call a full set of essences a ‘piano’ because aromas can be divided in high, medium and low notes. When we create a new scent, we do it as if we were creating music: selecting and combining individual notes to produce a melody. The vibration of essential oils and plants have their own musicality. Music is frequency, and that is vibration. Every plant has a vital force with an energetic charge that is unique and inimitable. Only an essential oil that preserves its purity and is extracted by the right method keeps that energetic charge. In Spanish alchemy that vibration is divided under two big groups — according to the vital energies of the sun and the moon. This is a slow making method that involves days of observation, testing, and tuning to harmonise the blend of several individual ingredients to transform it into a new creation with its proper musicality. So for example if we use rosemary, lemon and mint, when the blend is perfectly tuned you won’t smell each ingredient but a new scent that one day reminds you of rosemary, and on other days sage and so on. It has its own personality and evolves as one. That’s the alchemic quintessence.
3. How did you come up with the perfume blends?
I always start with the emotions I’d like to trigger, there’s always a purpose on each creation. Did you know that the olfactory bulb is part of your brain's limbic system, which is not under conscious control? The limbic system controls digestion, libido, and emotions.
Then I start creating a story on paper. Every bit of that story has a scent that defines it and I start listening how that melody sounds in my head. That’s the draft. When I was creating No.5 I walked (in my mind) into a Japanese forest, I imagined what plants I would encounter and how they would make me feel.
From there, I start blending and tuning. As an alchemic perfumer that never happens randomly. I always create at specific moon cycle times and seasons depending on the purpose of the creation and the scents I’ll be working with. It’s a process intimately linked to nature’s bio rhythms.
4. Spanish alchemical perfumery is at the core of everything you create. Please explain this process briefly?
Ha ha, briefly, ok. Besides all the above, practising botanical alchemy means having the knowledge and a purpose on these five areas of science: botany, phytotherapy, astrology, cosmetics and medicine. I apply all these principles in every creation, whether it is creating a scent for face cream, or an alchemic perfume or a body mist. In addition, most of my products contain a spagyric. In fact, this is the base of every Alchemic Perfume. Spagyric, or alchemic tincture, refers to a plant tincture to which the ash of the burned plant has also been added.
5. Where do you source your ingredients from?
Australian suppliers only, however there are only 2 ingredients that come from Spain because they cannot be found in Australia. I track every ingredient with my suppliers to ensure each essential oil comes from the right place and it’s the right botanical variety and quality. I also check my suppliers work with cruelty free as well as fair trade suppliers for the imported ingredients.
6. You refer to your products as 'slow made'. What does ’slow made’ mean to you?
It means literally slow on one hand, a spagyric takes at least 3 moon cycles to be ready! But on the other hand it means meaningful connection. The Slow movement started in 1986 (I was there, I’m that old haha!) as an intention to connect us more meaningfully. It was a counter reaction to fast food initially. Today it's a philosophy that describes a wide range of efforts to connect us to what’s around us, nature, wildlife, people, plants and the universe.
To me it’s taking the time to enjoy the journey as much as the result.
7. What inspires you?
LOVE, always. It’s the energy that moves the entire universe.
8. What is unique about your fragrances?
The botanical alchemy they are made of.
9. What are your most popular scents?
No 4 has been a great success amongst the ladies of all ages at all times. The other scents shine on different seasons: No 1 Spring, No 2 Summer, No 3 Autumn, No 5 Winter (loved by men).
10. What is SMELL to you? And what is PERFUME to you?
Smell is the trigger of memories and emotions (sometimes bad, sometimes nice) that can be from a single source or a blend. Perfume is a sophisticated aroma that contains the creator’s intention and shares their journey.
11. What is the biggest lesson you have learnt about yourself from bringing your perfumes to life and to the world?
Besides my small collection I also create custom-made perfumes. So, I feel I have made my dream come true. My biggest lesson would be: to make your dreams come true NEVER give up, small or big doesn’t matter, what matters is you do what you truly love to do. There’s always a way to sort things out.
12. With each of your scents can you describe them in one or two words. When would you wear each of them?
No 1 – for an elegant occasion, fresh & regal. Perfect balance for an afternoon cocktail party.
No 2 – for a fresh morning start, like morning coffee. ( I use it at all times!)
No 3 – for an intellectual soiree, like a book launch, or art exhibition.
No 4 – for a seductive night, curvy black dress and No4.
No 5 – for a winter adventure, at the top of a mountain.